Romare Bearden and the Face Collage


Instructional Plan Title: Romare Bearden and the Face Collage

Keywords: Figure, Balance, Rhythm, Harlem

Curriculum Area: Visual Art

Grade Level: Fourth Grade

Appropriate Group Size: This is a whole group activity. It would work with any class size.

Time Expected to Complete Instructional Plan: Two 50 minute periods on two different days for the art project. Additional time will be needed for assessment and written expression.

Instructional Objectives: Each student will create a collage using unusual shapes cut from magazines to create a face and mixed-media to finish the background. They will critique their project and write about it. By looking at and talking about Romare Beardon, they will become familiar with his style of mixed media art and this familiarization will develop within the students an appreciation of this medium, the artist, and their own creative expression.

Indiana State Proficiencies: Grade Four

#7 Students observe, select and utilize a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas in their work - - mixed media..
#10 Reflect on, revise, and refine work using problem solving and critical thinking skills.

#2 Recognize significant works of Western and non-western art and understand the chronological development of art movements.

#13 Students identify and make reflections between knowledge and skills in art and all other subject areas. . .

Materials and Resources: A variety of images of Romare Beardon's work, magazines, scissors, glue, 12" x 18" paper, watercolors, crayons, markers, colored pencils, the book Harlem.

Images - Grove Dictionary of Art Online (Accessed through IUPUI University Library Community Project at

  1. Conduct a text search. Romare Beardon is discussed in African American Art. Several images are included. Click on External Image Links to view his works of art.
    Other Romare Beardon works of art on the Internet:

    Return of the Prodigal Son, 1967, Property of Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA

    Empress of the Blues, 1974, Property of National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Preparation: The instructor needs to be familiar with Romare Beardon and discuss his work with the students. To help students understand Romare Beardon's culture and time, the children's literature book, Harlem by Walter Dean Myers, illustrator Christopher Myers, should be looked at and discussed. The instructor needs to prepare several examples of different models for the students so that they will understand the concept of making a collage without using realistic body parts. The instructor emphasizes that students think divergently and look for creative ways to show familiar features of a face in a new way. While looking at Romare Beardon's work, talk about balance, rhythm, symbolism, contrast, and emphasis.

Student Instructions: Pass out a magazine for each student. Show the models (examples) created by the teacher. Explain the following criteria to the students:

  1. Cut pictures from the magazine to create the collage of a face.
  2. The shapes for the face should resemble the parts that are represented (such as almonds for eyes or a car's grill for the teeth), but only one realistic part should be used on the collage (such as one realistic looking mouth, or nose, etc..)
  3. After finishing the face, neck, and shoulders using the collage method, complete the background by painting, coloring or in some way using the available resources to make the figure and the background show contrast.
  4. Arrange a display of all the pictures. Look at the arranged collages and explain your own picture.

The teacher will model correct verbal critique methods and symbol explanation using the keywords listed above. The teacher should discourage students form saying simple things like "I like it" or "I had fun." Ask student to express why they like it or what exact thing was fun.

Student Assessment: Student assessment will be performed when the students write about their work. The students will do a written expression lesson using the pictures as a prompt. They must describe the person in the collage and tell something about symbolism represented by the person. On the back of this writing, the students will give themselves a letter grade and explain why they think they should get this grade.

Expansion/Interdisciplinary Connections: This lesson is a tie in with the collage lesson and the inter-curricular lessons prepared by Sheri Camden in Exploring Indiana's Natural Resources, but the lesson may also stand on it's own merit.

Family Activities: The students should take the collages home and talk about them with their parents explaining collage making, the artist Romare Beardon, and asking about any collage activities that other family members have experienced.

Teacher Notes: By having the students give themselves a grade is a further writing and critical thinking experience not just the way to assess them. This grade could be used as a writing grade or as an art grade or just as a further experience in criticism.